Many of us are more interested in what we don’t know than what we do. All around us are examples of how the unknown looms large in the human consciousness: In algebra, x represents the unknown factor to solve for, while in business, “unknown unknowns” are events or circumstances that can’t be predicted or planned for. Evolutionarily speaking, uncertainty is hard for us to handle. Research shows that an intolerance of uncertainty is a hallmark of anxiety and panic disorders. The stress caused by the unknown can even affect our long-term health.
But what happens when we examine that vast, vague realm and begin to rethink how we approach it? What if we could view those infinite fears as infinite possibilities? A 2015 study aimed to reduce delusional thinking in patients by teaching them to consider a greater number of possible outcomes for an unknown situation. “Possibility thinking,” an increasingly popular term in business and life coaching, refers to the process of building a broader mindset that can help us apply concrete skills to a goal.
Beyond improving the flexibility of our brains, learning to approach the unknown with curiosity rather than fear can also help us feel better. We can cling to dread and steel ourselves for any number of negative outcomes, or we can patiently wait and search for new pathways forward, allowing hope to buoy us up along the way. For those of us who are prone to fearing the unknown, these quotes may help to rewire that perspective.
Only what is mysterious, undiscovered, and veiled attracts us; only what is hidden radiates magic that promises untold possibilities.Helmuth Plessner
Far from being a curse, uncertainty can be a source of hope. Okay, so yes, it means that the things we are looking forward to might not be as good as we want them to be, but it also means that the things we dread might not be as terrible as we imagine.Matt Haig
The whole point of life was you couldn't ever be sure what would happen next. Sometimes what happened was good, sometimes not, but there were always surprises.Veronica Henry
Let go of certainty. The opposite isn’t uncertainty. It’s openness, curiosity, and a willingness to embrace paradox.Tony Schwartz
Keep going come what may … That goal will become clearer, will emerge slowly but surely, much as the rough draught turns into a sketch.Vincent van Gogh
Life … is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity.Gilda Radner
Although our intellect always longs for clarity and certainty, our nature often finds uncertainty fascinating.Carl von Clausewitz
Embrace relational uncertainty. It's called romance. Embrace spiritual uncertainty. It's called mystery. Embrace occupational uncertainty. It's called destiny. Embrace emotional uncertainty. It's called joy. Embrace intellectual uncertainty. It's called revelation.Mark Batterson
A hero is someone who voluntarily walks into the unknown.Tom Hanks
It’s actually quite a good ethos for life: go into the unknown with truth, commitment, and openness and mostly you’ll be OK.Alan Cumming
My future seemed to stretch out before me like a straight road. I thought I could see along it for many a milestone. Now there is a bend in it. I don’t know what lies around the bend, but I’m going to believe that the best does.Lucy Maud Montgomery
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